The Bottom Line: Following a finely tuned paint-by-numbers formula – that Disneynature films (African Cats, Bears, Oceans, Earth and Chimpanzee) has been perfecting since 2007 – Monkey Kingdom delivers a lively an engaging glimpse in to a (mostly) jovial group of South Asia jungle dwellers who eat, sleep, groom, play and stick to a very strict societal hierarchy. These ready-for-primetime primates are chockfull of rich personalities that are colorfully enhanced by the witty and goofishly run-and-gun narrative stylings of Tina Fey. Instead of the traditional, here’s-what-you-see-on-screen, Morgan Freeman-ish approach to wildlife documentaries, Fey apes the proceedings with a freshness, flair and fervor that adds character depth and in turn enlivens the film as a whole. It may not be as deep or informative as its predecessors, but it’s definitely the most entertaining. …and if Miss Fey is the soul that makes this movie hum, the intrinsic bond between mother and son is the 800-pound gorilla heart at the center. As is the pattern with these films, certain liberties are taken to ramp up the tension or to enhance the frivolity – the inclusion of a cleverly edited turf war or a staged birthday party sugar spread may all be clearly manufactured, but they’re gracefully forced in place to service the story. And it works. An intriguing examination of social structures, familial ties and determination plus breathtaking imagery and a good natured sense of fun make this the must see monkey movie of the year. My family loved it, yours will too!
Narrated by: Tina Fey
Directed by: Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield
Running time: 81 minutes
Story: Maya’s world is forever changed when she welcomes her son, Kip, into her complicated extended family. Like all families, Maya’s has more than its share of colorful personalities—and she’s determined to give her son a leg up on the social ladder. When their longtime home at Castle Rock is taken over by powerful neighboring monkeys, Maya's whole family is forced to relocate, and she uses her street smarts and ingenuity to lead them to untapped resources amidst strange new creatures and unsettling surroundings. Ultimately, they will all have to work together to reclaim Castle Rock, where Maya can hopefully realize her dreams for her son’s future. [Disneynature]
Official site: www.nature.disney.com/monkey-kingdom